Christmas Eve Day

No snow yet! But the weather people say it is coming.

It is Christmas Eve. Attila is preparing our turkey dinner as I write. We decided that we would have our feast this evening, so that neither one of us need cook tomorrow. Leftovers are so very good, turkey sandwiches for lunch, and another turkey dinner for us on Christmas Day, so very good the next day!

It is oh so difficult to eat sensibly at this time of year, so many delicious traditional foods to savour. I have a weakness for candy, chocolate in particular, so I added an extra tablespoon of chocolate chips to my muffins yesterday, just as a treat.

The gifts are wrapped. It is altogether too much fun wrapping gifts for Grandchildren when they are wee! All of our Grandchildren still believe in Santa Clause, although Imp and Elf have their suspicions! In theory, we will see the Grandbabies, Luna and Terra’s children, not Emmi’s, at Terra’s house on Wednesday. We look forward to that get together! Terra works tomorrow, Christmas Day, then she is off work for the rest of the week, so I think she will have a chance to rest before the rest of us descend upon them.

Wishing everyone who joins me here a peaceful Christmas Eve, however you are spending it.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre
Not a creature was stirring, except the meteorologists.
As all eyes were transfixed on jolly Old St. Nick, his herd of furry friends, and an approaching snow storm just in time for Christmas.
Total snowfall amounts of 5 to 15 cm are likely across much of Southern Ontario.”

-5°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Sunday 24 December 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -5.3°C
Dew point: -9.8°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: ENE 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -11
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Hibernation

When the weather suddenly turned cold, Attila and I experienced a sudden sleepiness at the end of our day. Attila retired to his bed very early last night, and I followed not an hour later. We both slept soundly, reluctantly awakening to the alarm. We both arose refreshed. Was it a form of hibernation that overtook us, when the weather turned?

The sunrise this morning was beautiful. Now, late in the morning, the sky is bright and grey, it is snowing, and each time I have lifted my eyes to look out the window, white flakes have been drifting down to earth. It is also quite cold, -9C, well below freezing, so I am passing on the walk today. Tonight’s low, and tomorrow night’s low, will be -18C. Winter’s last gasp, I hope!

I don’t see my grandkids very often, and when I do it is always such a treat! I have been missing Luna’s children, and haven’t seen them since early December. Since we purchased Amazon Prime, many items can be shipped free. Often it is the cost of shipping that prevents me from sending things to the Grandkids. So I ordered some cookies and sent them to Imp and Elf and Tink last month. Luna wrote to say they really enjoyed getting a package in the mail addressed to them, and they enjoyed the cookies! Such fun!

Terra has been sticking close to home with her little ones, they are preemies and she has to watch their health very closely, which includes not exposing them to a lot of people, ergo germs. They were born last June, but were due in August, arriving two months early. They are both doing really well, both healthy, gaining weight, developing along expected paths, just a little bit slower getting there, which is not a cause for concern. Terra sent me some cell phone shots of them yesterday, and they are both on their tummies, holding their heads high, bright and eager. It won’t be long now before they begin to crawl! They both make good eye contact, engage in interaction, are verbal, and take a real interest in the things and people around them. When I see them I have no concerns about their stage of development, they seem perfect to me! I was a special education teacher for years, so I am aware of some of the developmental delays that can plague a child, but I have seen none of those in Sunny and Sky. Of course, I know as far as they are concerned, my vision is clouded by love!

Today I am busy with a variety of my projects. I continue to work on my book, scanning photographs that have been sent to me, editing them, preparing captions.

I have been searching for just the right company to do some printing for me, for a gift for my niece’s wedding this summer, and have finally found what I want. I have sent the order in this morning, and I am quite anxious to see how it turns out, one never knows with online orders! The last time I went on such a quest was in 2007 for Terra, and before that in 2001 for Luna. My niece’s wedding will be very small, with just a few family members and close friends invited; only family members who lived close by when my niece was growing up will be invited, so we won’t be going. I have two more nieces who might marry at some future date, so there are two more gifts that may be needed. If this company sends me an item I am happy with, it will take a lot less research to create gifts in the future!

When Attila and I married, only our daughter’s and their significant other’s attended, as well as the officiant. We married in our living room, and had the reception in our dining room. Attila cooked the meal. The only photographs taken were with a disposable camera that Luna bought. She is a photographer and offered to take our wedding photos, but she forgot to bring her camera to the wedding, Luna is like that, so she rushed out and bought a disposable camera from the drug store. Our wedding photos are few and fuzzy, but it was such a happy day that I see them as warm and fuzzy.

The crochet hook and wool are beside my chair. I pick them up every once and a while and practice. There is an ever so miniscule improvement in the tension of my stitches, as I continue to experiment with different ways of feeding the wool through my hand. I was using a wicker basket to hold my yarn and hook, but the yarn kept snagging on the edges, so I have switched to a metal mixing bowl from the kitchen, which works a lot better. I ordered a set of ergonomic crochet hooks that were recommended by Bex, and I am looking forward to their arrival in a few weeks time. Until then, I will work with what I have, the $1 hook from the discount store, with the $1 ball of yarn from the same place. I find that that as I move through my day, every time my eye catches sight of the ball of yarn and hook, I experience a pleasant feeling. It just goes to show me that I don’t have to be good at something to enjoy doing it!!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-9°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Friday 3 March 2017
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -8.8°C
Dew point: -13.9°C…
Humidity: 67%
Wind: WSW 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -11
Visibility: 3 km

Quote

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus
1913 – 1960

Ha! What I thought when I saw this quote was, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible crocheter.”

Or insert for summer whatever delights you in this life!

Scarlet Runner Beans

I’ve been keeping busy, very, very busy, keeping my speed up to that I can leap over chasms. My days are mostly pleasant.

We have had rain! It rained yesterday morning, which prevented me from taking my walk as early as I had planned. By the time the rain stopped and I stepped outside, it was like entering a sauna. I decided to take my walk anyway, but to avoid issues I walked very slowly, not pushing myself. I was soaked with sweat by the time I arrived home, safe and sound.

Last Saturday we had a lovely surprise. Luna and the Grandbabies arrived for a visit, staying for lunch and dinner. Imp and Elf and Tink are growing so fast now! Imp has grown quite tall. She and I had a great time going through some of the books on my bookshelf, trying to find the oldest book. I taught her where to look for the publication date at the front of the book. The oldest one we found was a leather bound copy of The Select Poetical Works of Lord Byron, Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Company, 119 Washington Street, 1853. Elf had fun building a wooden chair, footstool and table from wood scraps leftover from the garden shed project. Attila spent some time teaching him to use the electric screw driver. Tink enjoyed playing with the dolls in the toy box. She read the first half of the book Go Dogs Go to me, and then I read the second half of the book to her. All three of the Grandbabies stopped to sit with me as I read, it was charming.

Terra and Lares stopped by for about ten minutes with the Sunny and Sky. The babies were all dressed up for a family occasion of some kind, on Lares side of the family. They weren’t here long enough to take pictures. The twins are now both over 7 pounds and are rosy and healthy. They sleep a lot, oh how quickly I forget. Attila and I got to hold them, briefly.

We had a few cool days, when the high temperature only reached 24C, and then the heat returned. It has been a summer of blistering heat. The drought ended last week with an all day rain, and we had had rain again yesterday.

My toe nail is turning colour and separating from the nail bed. It isn’t a big deal, but when it became very painful I decided to get it looked at to make sure that it hadn’t become something serious. My only option for a medical opinion, the emergency department at the hospital. I arrived there and joined the queue at 7:30 p.m. last night and arrived home at 2:15 a.m., the drive to and from is under five minutes. Most of that time I waited in an almost full to capacity waiting room, sitting across from a couple who were very obviously high on something, who were themselves waiting for a morning after pill, which they were discussing loudly, with the television in the room loudly describing gruesome murders and showing graphic reenactments. It was a long night, and the doctor visually diagnosed fungal infection and poor circulation, injected freezing, suggested salt water soaking and tylenol, 20 minutes tops, and sent me on my way.

There has to be a better way to deliver basic health care.

I slept until 7:20 am this morning, a very short night, and I feel horrid from a bad night’s sleep.

Things are looking green, and at last the Scarlet Runner Beans along the fence are filling in and blooming profusely. Yesterday morning I stood at the kitchen window for ten minutes or so, to watch a Humming Bird visit each bloom on the Scarlet Runners. Plants are on sale at the moment, particularly potted plants that suffered during the hot drought. We picked up a large pot of Echinacea, which Attila planted by the compost bin, where we think it will do very well. I am attempting to plant Monarch Butterfly friendly plants in the yard. I was most interested in a site devoted to creating Monarch friendly gardens. I haven’t seen any Monarch Butterflies this summer!

A bloom on the Scarlet Runner Beans. I will be watching these blooms again this morning, in hopes of seeing the Humming Bird feeding.
DSCF9434
The new Echinacea plant, already thriving beside the compost bin.
DSCF9424
The herbs and spices for a Lentil Salad. I made a Lentil Salad yesterday, assembling three batches of the herbs and spices needed. One I used to make the salad, and the other two I stored in small jars for future salads. There are so many herbs and spices that finding them all in the kitchen cupboard takes a bit of time, so doling out three measures into three containers saves me a lot of time.
DSCF9415

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Thursday 25 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 23.6°C
Dewpoint: 21.7°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: SSW 23 km/h
Humidex: 33

Quote

Why is it we feel
So little for each other, but for this,
That we with nature have no sympathy,
Or with such things as have no power to hold
Articulate language?
And never for each other shall we feel
As we may feel, till we have sympathy
With nature in her forms inanimate,
With objects such as have no power to hold
Articulate language. In all forms of things
There is a mind.

William Wordsworth, fragment from the Alfoxden Notebook, in Ernest de Selincourt and Helen Darbishire (editors), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Volume 5 (Oxford University Press 1949), page 340.

Poem for Carl Robert

I name you the bloom
on the scarlet runner beans
growing wildly up my fence
and the bristly heads
crowned with purple
of the Echinacea.

I name you the leaves
that loosely follow and
beckon and caress empty air
and the long grasses
undulating
pointing the way.

You who filled
certain crucial holes
in my universe
so that I could have walked
blindly through life.

How beautiful you were.
How beautiful you are.

Maggie Turner

The Christmas Feast

I wonder if my spelling has always been this atrocious! I am spelling at least one word in every paragraph incorrectly. I can not tell if this is due to old age, if this has always been the case, or if there is a decline due to the use of a keyboard rather than a pen. Whatever the reason, I do not like making spelling errors. Typing errors and faulty autocorrects I can live with, but my spelling errors are getting on my nerves!

Apple has a dictation service, but they keep records of everything dictated, on their servers, which is not acceptable in my view. So I do not use that service. Why would I willingly agree to have all my correspondence recorded by a mega corporation?

The new cell phone is holding its charge. I charged it when I first set it up, last week, and it is registering a half charge, which I interpret to mean a 50% charge. That would make it necessary to charge the cell phone twice a month, not bad. Of course, I don’t use the cell phone much. It has received morning calls from Attila, which I do not answer but take note of, to alert me that he is ready for our FaceTime chat, and one call from Terra. So far, so good. It was the cheapest cell phone available near the little house in the city, so I did not know what to expect. The ratings on this phone were poor, but that was based on it not performing the complex functions used by persons who use their cell phones as more than just an emergency call device. The ratings did not pertain to the features I needed.

This past week, here at the little house without Attila, has passed slowly and peacefully. I do miss Attila when he isn’t here, but I have to keep reminding myself that if I were at the country house with him, I would not see very much of him there either. He is busy, busy, busy with his wood chopping, snow removal, and attending to home maintenance projects. This past week, since the masonry heater had cooled for a week while we were away, Attila began to empty the ash dump for the masonry heater. The ash dump is huge, and has not been cleaned out for over five years. By the end of last winter is was full, and interfering with a good burn in the heater. So Attila removed thirty or so buckets of fine ash, and feels he is only half finished the project. The rest will need to wait until spring, when the heating season is over, and the ashes have cooled.

Attila got up at 3:00 a.m. yesterday morning, to begin firing in the masonry heater, then he went back to bed for two hours. When he arose the firing was almost complete, so that he could close the dampers, turn on the electric heaters, and begin his journey to the little house in the city. He arrived here at the little house shortly before noon.

We had a quick bite to eat, we loaded the car with the gifts, and my baking, and I drove us out to Terra’s house for our Christmas get together. Shortly after we arrived Luna and Janus, the Grandbabies, and Bim the dog arrived. They were late because as they were driving along the highway, the back window suddenly exploded and shattered. No one was hurt, thankfully. They had to return home, secure the back window with plastic, then remove and load all of their gear into the family car, a much smaller vehicle. This occurrence was not preceded by any warning that the window was not sound, nor did it receive a blow, so the cause will remain unknown.

The Grandbabies, as ever, are delightful. Terra cooked a turkey dinner, which was fantastic. After dinner we retired to the living room and opened the gifts. It was a lot of fun, and the children seemed genuinely excited with their gifts. After an evening visiting, Attila and I headed back to the little house in the city, and retired for the night shortly after arriving home. Attila was exhausted all afternoon and evening, if he sat down for any length of time, he fell asleep. He was grateful to lie down at last!

This morning I arose very early and puttered about for a few hours, letting Attila sleep until he woke up on his own. He slept in until almost 8:00 a.m., which was a real treat for him. Then it was time to pack the car, in readiness for Attila’s drive home. He left shortly before noon, and called me four and half hours later to let me know that he had arrived safely. The roads had been clear and dry, no visibility problems, a sunny day. We only spoke a few minutes, as he was headed out to the wood shed with his ax, to prepare wood to fire the masonry heater.

Attila will return to the little house in the city for Christmas.

After Attila left this morning, Tank and I headed back to Terra’s house. I spent a pleasant afternoon there, chatting with my girls, and their husbands and friends, and the Grandbabies.

The gifts we gave the Grandbabies provided entertainment for all this morning. Imp received a baking set, and she baked cupcakes for the family. Elf received an Aquapod launcher, which they all had a great time with, launching pop bottles across the farm fields. Tink received a puppet tent, which was too complicated to assemble at Terra’s house, they needed to take it home to assemble it. We are hoping for a video of her first production.

I am back at the little house now, taking a quiet moment with the computer, and Mist sleeping in the chair beside me.

I has been a lovely weekend.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Thursday 18 December 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -0.6°C
Dewpoint: -3.0°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: NW 19 km/h
Wind Chill: -6

-3°C
Date: 5:00 PM EST Sunday 21 December 2014
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 19 km
Temperature: -2.8°C
Dewpoint: -6.6°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: NE 7 km/h
Wind Chill: -6

Quote

“The universal brotherhood of man is our most precious possession.”
Mark Twain
1835 – 1910

[For most men in North America, although language at the time alluded to including all of the human species under the umbrella of “man”, the universal brotherhood really only included affluent white men, or in other cultures, affluent men of the ruling class. Mark Twain may have included “others” under the umbrella of “man”, and his personal use of “universal” may have been a valid adjective, but most men did not, and were not even aware that they did not.]

Luna’s New House

Monday, October 21

On Saturday afternoon I built the last of the curing burns in the masonry heater. Then I closed the dampers, and Attila and I headed out for a visit with Luna and Janus and the Grandbabies.

Luna and Janus moved last week, to their dream house. They bought a 1908 vintage home, with five bedrooms, a huge yard, private views, and original wood interior features. The home is walking distance to their previous home, in the same school district, so there will be no jarring changes for the family.

It was a wonderful visit. Imp and Elf are eight years old now, and quite the characters. Tink is five and a bundle of cheery energy. They are wonderful children, thoughtful and interactive. We spent every minute we could with them.

Attila helped Janus move the washer and dryer at the new house to the old house, and the washer and dryer from the old house to the new house. The really fun project was moving the huge backyard trampoline from the old house to the new house. It was a family project, although all of the lifting and carrying was done by Janus and Attila. They carried the trampoline the whole way, with an entourage. As they awkwardly carried the trampoline down the quiet streets, Luna, myself, the Grandbabies, and Bim all followed along to cheer them on, and we did our best to stay out of their way, we really did.

Last week Terra gave me a small watermelon from her garden. She wasn’t sure it was ripe, or would be edible. It was ripe and delicious. We brought it with us on our visit to Luna, and it was enjoyed by all of us.

Luna and Janus’ new old-house is in need of renovation, but quite livable as it is. It is a home built for a very affluent family, and has servants quarters on the third floor, with a separate stair case for the servants. The wood trim and stained glass windows are the outstanding features, but both are in need of tender loving care. To bring this home back to a state of grace Janus and Luna will be working hard indeed. They plan on living there until the Grandbabies have flown the nest, then they will sell it, because that is what they do.

Janus says that he is flying to Dallas, Texas in two weeks, for training. He is getting all kinds of advice from people as to how to protect himself from viruses, although he does not work in health care. It will be interesting to hear about his experience when he gets back!

We drove back to the country house on Sunday afternoon, through sunlit golden fields, and bright red and yellow forests.

I have been keeping an eye on the indoor temperature at the little house in the city, which I can do with an app now. The heat system has not been activated since we left, which is great. The temperature continues to fall though, as autumn deepens. By the end of this week the temperature in the little house will fall below the threshold of 10C, and the heat pump will begin to do its thing, keeping the house at an ongoing 10C when we are not there. I wanted to set it up with a temperature lower than 10C, but our certified technician (Lares) said no, that it would compromise the system and was a very bad idea. So we went with the expert advice, and have set the system up to maintain 10C when we are not there. Hopefully, with the new windows, added insulation in the dining area and kitchen, and the screen door on the front door, we will not use very much fuel.

I want to insulate the attic hatch on my next loan trip, to further reduce heat loss. Next summer we will be putting a new window in the back bedroom, that should reduce heat loss for the winter of 2015/2016. I continue to consider ways to reduce heat loss, that fall within our financial means. I think we are gaining ground on that front, as when we visit the house it heats up to a comfortable temperature in under 30 minutes, and stays comfortable with the heating system running only occasionally. Terra stays there sometimes in the winter, when she works nights, and the roads are really, really bad, as she can walk to the little house from her workplace. She observes the same thing, the house warms quickly and stays that way without much activity from the heating system.

We arrived back from Luna’s to a chilly house, 13C, so the first order of things was to bring in firewood to light a fire in the masonry heater. Attila lit another this morning, but the draft is not well established and it went out. I spent my morning working to establish a good draft and get a proper burn. Although it was warmer today than when we arrived home, the temperature was still hovering around 17C, which is chilly without warm footwear, a jacket, a scarf, and gloves. I own these things, so all is well. Mist found a comfy spot near the heater and slept away the day; she has not been complaining, I guess she was giving us some time to adjust our set!

Attila came home for lunch, which was rare treat, and brought in adequate wood for an early afternoon firing. After he had left to go back to work, I set the fire. It made all the difference, within two hours the temperature in the living area was very comfortable.

Mist is sleeping in ecstasy. Cats can do that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The house is warm and cozy, a nice contrast to the drizzle and grey outside, where Attila is spending his day. The temperature in the house remained comfortable overnight, so that the morning fire was not started until mid-morning. One firing a day should keep the house toasty warm for the next few weeks, then the two-fires-a-day weather will set in.

All was quiet on the home front today.

I cleaned up the hard drive on my MacBook Air, preparing it for an operating system upgrade to Yosemite. The download took over eight hours, it was a tiresome process. Luckily the iMac was in perfect working order, having already been upgraded to Yosemite, so I had a computer to work on during the day. The iMac is a 2007 model, so this was probably the last Operating System upgrade that will be installed on it. When I upgraded it to Mavericks it was horrible! The iMac slowed to a snails pace and there were multiple issues to work through. The upgrade to Yosemite, on the other hand, was seamless, and the iMac actually runs faster and more reliably now. I have hopes that the same will be true on the MacBook Air.

I puttered around with filing, frequently wondering where all of this paper comes from! I voted in the municipal elections, which could be accomplished online in two of the three municipalities in which we vote. I experimented with cleaning the washing machine, first running it with baking soda, then with vinegar; it did not work. We have the high efficiency washer and it has developed a bit of an odour, which we cannot seem to get rid of.

Other than that a quiet day, but for the steady bluster of wind, and leaves and debris clattering against the side of the house, as the wind carried it down from above.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

6°C
Date: 12:02 PM EDT Monday 20 October 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Visibility: 8 km
Temperature: 6.4°C
Dewpoint: 6.4°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: SE 13 km/h

5°C
Date: 11:18 AM EDT Tuesday 21 October 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 10 km
Temperature: 4.6°C
Dewpoint: 4.6°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: NNE 11 km/h

Quote

“No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.”
Agnes de Mille
1909 – 1993